Pahang recorded a dominant 5-0 win over Kedah in the second leg of their Malaysia Cup semi-final on Friday to advance to the final with a 6-3 aggregate triumph.
Entering the tie at the Darulmakmur Stadium trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Tok Gajah knew they needed a strong performance if they were to have any chance of overturning the deficit.
They gave themselves an excellent chance of doing just that when they took the lead after just five minutes; Matias Conti climbing highest to meet Azidan Sairudin’s corner with a firm header past Saiful Amar Sudar.
And in the 26th minute, it was 2-0 after Azamuddin Akil created space for himself before playing a dangerous cross into the six-yard box, where R. Gopinathan made no mistake in stabbing home from close range.
Had the scoreline remained the same, it would have been enough to see the hosts progress on the away goals rule but just for good measure, they added a third on the half-hour mark.
Azamuddin was the architect once more as he beat his man down the right before whipping in a precise delivery to the near post for Conti, who made no mistake in turning the ball into the back of the net.
By now, Pahang were in complete control of proceedings and the contest looked to be over eight minutes before the break when Conti completed his hat-trick – rifling a first-time shot past Saiful Amar after Dickson Nwakaeme had held up the ball inside the box before laying a neat pass into the path of his strike partner.
With a comfortable lead in their possession, Tok Gajah looked content to consolidate their advantage by killing off the game in the second 45.
But there was still one final hurrah to come from them and it arrived in the 74th minute through a fine individual effort by Gopinathan, who embarked on a blistering run from the halfway line and left two defenders in his wake before blasting his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
The victory keeps alive Pahang’s hopes of retaining the Malaysia Cup and they will find out who their opponents in the final are on Saturday when Johor Darul Ta’zim face off against FELDA United.
Pahang: Khairul Azhan Khalid, Razman Roslan, Damion Stewart, Saifulnizam Miswan, Shahrizan Salleh, Azamuddin Akil (Fauzi Roslan 90’), Azidan Sairudin, Faizol Hussein (Hafiz Kamal 76’), R. Gopinathan, Matias Conti (Zesh Rehman 86’), Dickson Nwakaeme.
Kedah: Saiful Amar Sudar, Rizal Ghazali, Adam Griffiths, Khairul Helmi Johari, Shafizan Hashim, Syazwan Tajudin, Hanif Mat Dzahir (Syafiq Ahmad 62’), Farhan Roslan, Woong Nam-gung (Khyril Muhymeen Zambri 9’), Baddrol Bakhtiar (Syazwan Zainon 82’), Billy Mehmet.